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StorageGRID load balancer: Simplicity, performance, and advanced QoS

Steven Pruchniewski

StorageGRID load balancerThe StorageGRID load balancer is purpose-built for StorageGRID, dramatically simplifying administration and enabling advanced features like traffic classifications for QoS and gaining deep insights into object storage workloads

Object storage is simple for applications to use. You just provide an endpoint address, such as a URL. Behind that URL, object storage administrators can scale capacity, improve performance, and provide extreme durability, so that the failure of disks, nodes, or even an entire data center is a nonevent for the applications. With its unique data management features, NetApp® StorageGRID® object-based storage takes this simplicity to the next level.

Given its simplicity, AWS and other vendors have built their clouds on object storage, and the adoption of object storage in other areas has accelerated. The S3 API has become the de facto standard for object storage. As customers consume object storage from the public cloud, they see the benefits of deploying it in their own data centers to optimize costs, improve performance, comply with regulations, and achieve greater availability and performance.

When you create your own cloud, managing the infrastructure that underlies it can be complex and demand more from your teams than using a public cloud.  Load balancers are a powerful tool in managing your cloud because they pool resources behind a virtual IP address that is tied to the endpoint, as mentioned earlier. This simplified resource pooling is what makes cloud storage possible. Object storage pools storage nodes—the servers that present storage via the S3 API. If storage nodes fail, applications are connected to healthy servers. When more performance or capacity is required, more nodes can be added to the pool nondisruptively.

Many companies like F5 and Citrix offer options for load balancers. These companies have created enterprise-grade, highly available, high-performance appliances that can handle multiple applications. For years these load balancers were the preferred option for deploying StorageGRID, and they remain an excellent choice. With any powerful and flexible piece of IT infrastructure, these load balancers require expertise, and typically only large customers were able to dedicate the resources required.  With object storage becoming commonplace, new customers that never needed load balancers before now struggle with the complexity and expense of general-purpose load balancers.

With every release, NetApp StorageGRID has sought to make object storage simpler to deploy, operate, and consume. The newest area targeted for simplification is the load balancer.

StorageGRID offers its own high-performance, enterprise-grade, purpose-built load balancer. It’s easy to deploy and configure; the software automatically sets up  common tasks like creating pools of nodes, adding and removing nodes, creating health checks, and tuning. StorageGRID also handles upgrades and hotfixes, making the load balancer essentially maintenance free.

The load balancer can be deployed as a virtual machine or as a container at no additional cost. You can choose a high-performance hardware appliance, the NetApp StorageGRID SG1000 with four 100GB interfaces, or the newly released SG100, which is cost optimized for smaller deployments.

Another key feature of the load balancer is that it’s dedicated to StorageGRID. Customers typically share third-party load balancers among several applications to justify the cost, which means sharing bandwidth. The dedicated StorageGRID load balancer eliminates competition for resources.

Easy, purpose-built load balancing is just the start. Next we added the following innovative StorageGRID specific features.

StorageGRID traffic classifications is our implementation of QoS to set limits on a given workload identified by subnet, tenant ID, bucket name, or endpoint. Creating a traffic classification rule allows you to gain insight into a workload before applying any QoS rules. For example, when implementing a new application with unknown characteristics, traffic classifications can show bandwidth, object size, what functions are being performed, and more. Once you understand the workload, you can set limits to ensure proper allocation of resources.

The StorageGRID optimized load balancer will deliver innovative features with every release, so stay tuned!

Whether you’re an object storage newbie or a seasoned veteran, the StorageGRID load balancer enables you to accelerate and simplify object storage workloads. You can successfully manage your own cloud.

Steven Pruchniewski

View all Posts by Steven Pruchniewski

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